Thursday, 1 September 2016

Starting Home Ed in KS3? Structured Approach Quick Start Guide.

Please don't go spending a fortune at first, it takes a while to suss your child's preferred learning style. We think the real burning need for expensive text books only comes when you hit the exam syllabus stage; and that until then most stuff can actually be gleaned for free or very low cost. Start with the free stuff and only make purchases when you are sure you actually need them. This will mean that hopefully you will have the funds available for any really critical things you may find your child needs further down the line such as private therapies. As an Elective Home Educator you will also need to budget for the exam fees later on to enter your child as a private candidate for iGCSE's etc.

The Home Education community often negotiates group discounts on things like specialist dyslexia software etc. We also swap, share and sell on learning resources to one another. So do ask in our Face Book group, before splurging out. For some specialist therapies and disability equipment etc we've worked hard to find sources of grant support wherever possible. For most things someone, somewhere will have found a way of accessing it more cheaply. - link to our group where you can ask! 

This is a core curriculum that you can add to, adapt and tailor to exactly meet your child's needs over time. It is intended to help you hit the ground running and avoid the common HE newbie mistake of spending a large amount on text books that just sit gathering dust on a shelf, only to disparately wish you could claw back those funds to spend on something your child really needs to aid their learning further down the line. With that in mind most of the resources listed below are totally free, and any resource that isn't has had to really justify being included.
Almost all home educators benefit hugely from a broadband connection and a basic PC/lap top + printer. Click here for advice on how to keep the costs for this down. 


At 11 I would stick with this course for maths as its free, until you need a specific exam board textbook later on. That keeps the costs down for one core subject.


This range of text books is really good for  KS3. very visual, fun and comes with an accompanying DVD for your PC. Check out the 2nd hand section of amazon before making your purchase as it's often available in excellent condition at a much lower price than brand new.
FREE practical experiments for this level - HE gives the opportunity to do much more hands on science than is often possible in classes of 30. Which is a huge benefit to many of our children who prefer a hands on learning approach.

Do check out

A couple of great courses coming up in the next term or so we'd recommend

- basic science experiments

- the science of nutrition

Khan Academy is great for Science and maths.

English - Free again!
This is a fab structured resource. Most of the literary texts are available totally free through the site too. Gives a really solid grounding in English language and literacy. Incorporates History in a lovely way too - wonderful to read about how people really lived as its all interconnected so nicely. 
Amazon often do second hand textbooks for as little as a penny. You just pay £2.80 postage and 9 times out of ten the books are in near perfect condition. We've often had great success finding CGP textbooks this way.
Abesbooks is another place to find standard textbooks much cheaper than the RRP.

Need a FREE KS3 Poetry Course? We love this one from NI. Huge poetry teaching PDF for ages 12yrs plus. (Key stage 3 in Northern Ireland). This is a brilliant resource for older children and uses computer skills, research, poetry and reading comprehension. Really good.

English - reading comprehension and analysis!
Very good resource!
Book review reports, reading comprehension templates, critical analysis templates.

Modern Foreign Language
Duolingo is hard to beat. It's available for PC,and tablet and there is now a Welsh option


This is a 42 part course on World History. Enough to see you through your first year of Home Education. Of course it's free and should be enough for your child to decide whether this subject interests them enough to continue their studies in this area.


This is a great site to begin your KS3 Geography. Field trips are so easy for us as home educators. Wales is a particularly good place for this subject given our natural environment and several HE groups take advantage of that. It's quite common to also study environmental management as well as geography to iGCSE and for children to take the Jean Muir award later on.

This also seems like a good place to point out that most curriculum topics have a dedicated Face Book group chock full of learning resources and usually run by subject matter experts. This is the link to the Geography group, which is a particularly useful one. Again rather than rushing to Waterstones and spending a fortune, it's always worth asking in our own online group  if your ASD kid's current obsession with Astonomy can't be nurtured all the way to an iGCSE pass via cheap online resources. 

Internet Safety. 

Cyber Safety isn't yet part of the Welsh National Curriculum, so please don't assume your child is cyber savvy re their personal safety, because of what they've been taught at school. Most Home Educated Children quickly discover the amazing learning resource that is the internet and make best use of it. In order to keep them safe as they do so we believe quite strongly that it's worth taking the time right at the start of your HE journey to spend some real time on this subject.Parents! Do take a look at these cyber safety sites. Being clued up yourself is the best way to ensure our children and young people stay safe online. Our young digital natives are depending on us!

Learning with minecraft - if yours is a gamer then make their time productive in terms of learning. There is a home education server we can give details about in our group (moderated). This site is used by teachers globally in lessons across the curriculum so is worth making a note of too

Legal Stuff - here's a link to our quick reference guide for Home Educators in Wales. It's handy to save to your favourites in case of queries when dealing with officialdom. The vast majority of our members are Elective Home Educators.


It's worth noting our Face Book Group contains members at the extremes of the academic ability range in both directions, with early Uni entrants and those aiming to do foundation skills alike.  Not all our kids will take exams and we recognise that. Alternative opportunities to prepare for independent adult life are discussed in our Face Book group on a regular basis, as and when we come across them or develop new initiatives. We are currently in the process of compiling a list of Exam Centres across Wales that accept private candidates. Where possible we are enquiring about the possibility of access arrangements for candidates with disabilities. Welsh Exam Centres will be the subject of a blog post in the near future. 

Author - Steph Shobiye.

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